What exactly are ergogenic aids?
Briefly summarised they are in fact any means of enhancing Energy utilisation, Energy production, Energy control and Efficiency.
In short, they are meant to assist you in:
- Allowing the body to recover faster from some form of stress it has been put through i.e. through training or racing.
Improving your own personal performances both during training and more importantly on race days
- Delaying the inevitable on-set of muscle fatigue that one will experience when you are pushing your limits
- Reducing the muscle damage that comes from a physical exertion of swimming, biking and running hard or long
HOW CAN YOU INCLUDE THE USE OF ERGOGENIC AIDS IN YOUR DAILY/WEEKLY DIET ROUTINE TO HELP YOU PERFORM AND RECOVER BETTER?
Increased Carbohydrate intake
Simply defined, Carbohydrates supply the body with glucose that is converted into energy to enhance and support the body’s functions during physical activity. It must also be said, you get good carbohydrates and you get not-so-good carbohydrates
GOOD = Vegetables/Legumes/Fruit/Whole Grains/Nuts/Seeds
NOT-SO-GOOD = refined carbs/sugar sweetened beverages/white bread and pasta/pastries
Increase Protein intake
Protein is vital to repair muscles damage (repairs the cells and muscle tissue) as well as synthesize hormone amongst others. In other words, the muscles NEED IT!
A normal healthy diet can supply the protein content needed to perform these functions whilst a protein supplement shake can be used as an added extra if you are busy with some seriously hard and time consuming training (Iron Distance Training for example)
Sources of good protein food types include fish/poultry/eggs/cheese/yoghurt and pork
Caution: Some people react differently to the intake of protein especially when they add additional protein supplements to their daily intakes when it’s not really needed. Bloating and increased weight can be the negatives associated with protein intake when using these products, so make sure it is working correctly for you. A well balanced normal daily diet intake generally should do the job.
Add a Daily Vitamin dose
Adding some vitamin intake in the form of A, B and C can help speed up recovery in some instances.
Note: there is only so much absorbed by your body. By jamming your body with an overload of vitamins will just lead to a very expensive urine dis-charge so spend your pennies wisely. In this case, more is not necessarily better.
Amino Acid Intake
Amino Acids will increase protein synthesis, prevent protein break-down and generally improve the recovery process. Point being if you can grab them, use them.
Types of Amino Acids = BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids that are comprised of leucine/isoleucine and valine). These are the ones you want to look out for when you go shopping at your nearest outlet.
Increased Caffeine Intake
There is a big reason we all love our coffee so much, no co-incidence here
Caffeine intake after a workout routine or race will definitely help speed up the recovery process. Add some food intake like a bagel for example, along with a cuppa and you are set on your road to recovery. It’s no wonder so much time is spent at the coffee bars re-fuelling. Not just a myth anymore, so go ahead and enjoy a cup or two or three.
Post-Race Recovery Strategies
We put so much effort into racing and performing well on the day that once we cross the line, we tend to forget the recovery process starts almost immediately. You have seen the TDF riders hop onto their turbo trainers almost as soon as they cross the finish-line. They are already thinking recovery and about the next day and beyond performance. You too could significantly improve your overall performance and recovery strategies by applying some of these basic common tips next time you finish a race or even a hard training session.
Start hydrating and replenishing the body with food and drink as soon as possible (within 15-30 minutes).
You may find it hard to immediately stomach the thought of eating, especially after a hard endurance effort. But, the sooner you can start, the better your body will re-act to absorbing what it is being supplied with and the faster the body repair and recovery process will be
Make sure you loosen down directly after you finish (stretch/do a short run/cycle etc.
This will minimise the impact of the muscles tightening and “stiffening” up
Light Massage Therapy
Most of the events these days have a massage service available. Make use of it and grab one of those tables before they are gone.
This might seem a little impractical at some of the events but we can recommend this little secret that a top ITU PRO’s coach let us in on. “When he travels, he takes along a plastic dustbin and uses a duffle-bag to travel with by inserting the dust-bin into the duffle-bag and filling the bin with his clothes. When he gets to the race venue – he then uses the emptied dust-bin as his “ice-bath” instrument – very clever and works the bomb – why not try it!
Change into warm dry clothes immediately after the event
so as to ensure you don’t stand around in your wet tri apparel for hours. Keeping the body warm post-race is a massive advantage when one is trying to recover sufficiently after the hard race-days effort
Use a foam roller back at the hotel room or lodging
This will also aid the recovery process for those stiff sore muscles. A good night’s sleep goes hand in hand with some foam rolling. We know it’s hard to resist the post-race festivities but don’t expect to wake up next morning feeling as fresh as a daisy if you don’t get some much needed shut-eye the night after.
Add a Protein Shake to the mix
Just before you turn off the lights! This is an added little extra that can help mend those broken muscle fibres.
Put some thought into your own personal recovery strategies as mentioned above and we guarantee a much better post-race experience. Waking up the next morning might seem somewhat easier if you heed some of the advice given herein.